Several types of agricultural products and foodstuffs need to be fumigated for days, sometimes two or more times in their journey from farm to consumption for protection against pests. Phosphine, CO2, low oxygen, heat, and other methods are used globally in the fight against stored product insects. Monitoring and auditing these methods is important. But the difficulties in accessing storage silos, warehouses and ship holds, the hazards toxic fumigant gases bring for human health, and the remote location of most storage assets make monitoring and visibility of fumigations difficult to achieve. Transparency is thus at risk.
Enismaro has partnered with Centaur Analytics, a leading company in Precision Fumigation and Grain Quality monitoring. Centaur offers an award-winning, turnkey IoT solution for quality and abundance of agricultural products. Patented smart fumigation sensors offer accurate, real-time fumigant concentration and product temperature data.
Phosphine (PH3): This fumigant comes with serious advantages such as cost, availability and advanced monitoring tools. Its primary downside, insect resistance, can be easily managed with a digital fumigation approach and by using the right digital tools.
There are two gases that are acceptable for fumigation of organic products: CO2 and nitrogen. The lack of oxygen causes insect death by anoxia while CO2 adds a poisonous effect. The gases are potentially hazardous for people so monitoring for personnel safety shall be part of every well-designed fumigation system.
The need for monitoring
Almost every storage structure is leaking. Differences in day-night temperatures create internal currents and pressure that increase leakage.
Phosphine concentration fluctuates constantly, following temperature fluctuations in storage area and the laws of gases and thermodynamics.
Gas concentration varies between higher and lower points in a stack fumigation. Phosphine is heavier than air and moves near the floor while higher areas get lower readings.
Digital fumigation: A checklist
Applying the right amount of fumigant and avoiding overdosing.
Preventing underexposure which may lead to exacerbated insect resistance and a higher risk of reinfestation.
Ensuring personnel safety at all times, eliminating the possibility of leakage or drift of hazardous substances.
Recording and storing data in permanent records across a supply chain for later retrieval and traceability.
To achieve these goals, the following essential steps need to be followed by every time:
- Creating and following a fumigation plan
- Sealing property
- Testing insects for resistance, on a periodic basis
- Selecting the right fumigation protocol(eg. X ppm for Y days)
- Selecting a good, branded fumigant
- Calculating absorption of fumigant as well as any losses, in determining the dosage